Open banking: new challenges and job opportunities
Some people call it 'revolution', others prefer to define it as 'evolution'. Be that as it may, the major transformation in the banking sector, driven by the European directive on digital payment services PSD2 that entered into application in November 2018, entails a change in the professional profiles demanded by the industry.
Open Banking and Banking as a Service are a turning point, embracing digital financial technology, toward a bank in which the most important thing is not the bank, but the customer and his experience as a user, focused on the mobile user.
A recent survey on digital banking conducted by Deloitte in 17 countries showed that bank customers have a stronger emotional connection with technology brands such as Apple, Amazon and Google than with their banks. Some of the skills of these companies in combining experiences of the physical and digital worlds are considered a good model for banks.
What does all this mean for professionals in a sector that is traditionally not very dynamic? An industry that has been moving and developing slowly—under the weight of rigid regulation, by the way—until recently, when the internet has changed everything.
In the words of Elías Ghanem, Vice President of Capgemini and FINTECH Lead for Continental Europe, in an interview, the regulator "was the best banking protector and now has become the best protector of the consumer". In addition to the risks posed for banking, Ghanem warned about cases such as a telecommunications operator, Orange, that decided to become a bank in France, a banking platform by using the network that it had for its phone stores. "The third black swan are GAFA, which are Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, to which we must add Microsoft, Alibaba and Tencent (the two Amazons of China) and these are the threats to the banking sector."
Going back to the workers, to begin with, the speed of change is forcing banks to rethink the basics, the way they organize their activities. They will have to develop a new, more open and agile operating model, as well as new sets of capabilities and likely a network of third parties, as the consultancy firm Deloitte suggested in a report on 'Bank of the Future'.
In addition, to carry out all these processes, there is a need to address a change of philosophy, and then move on to the specifics. In an article published by McKinsey, which gathered the opinion of three managers of innovative companies in the Open Banking sector - Ping Identity, Plaid, and Tink-, all agreed on something: "While regulation can help provide structure to data sharing, a mindset that prioritizes facilitation over control and restriction will be necessary for all parties to realize its full benefit"
Technology is the new language
In order to be competitive in the digitally enabled financial services industry, one must master the new language: technology. Banks are increasingly demanding more professionals capable of mastering emerging technologies such as virtual reality, predictive algorithms and so-called conversational commerce.
"Many of the roles and job titles of tomorrow are unknown to us today," said Josh Bottomley, Global Head of Digital, Retail Banking & Wealth Management, HSBC, in a study. "One thing is certain, however - artificial intelligence will not replace human intelligence. Blending the best technology with the power of people will be the difference between good and great when it comes to customer experience," he adds.
HSBC made a prediction regarding the six key roles of the future, which can be very useful to get an idea about the essential skills you need to win the battle for talent. The idea that it's enough to have financial training to work in a bank is becoming increasingly obsolete.
Its proposals were the following: Mixed Reality Experience Designer, Algorithm Mechanic, Conversational Interface Designer, cross-platform consultants (Universal Service Advisor), Digital Process Engineer and what we could call a person responsible for opening data to third parties (Partnership Gateway Enabler), who would be responsible for designing what the APIs of the different products and/or services should be like and to what extent and to which third parties they should be open, balancing the user experience, the scope of the business and the security of access to this data.
The reality is that it is still difficult to find candidates who meet all the requirements necessary to perform a competent job in these roles.
When it comes to filling positions within the new technologies applied to banking, Sara Abad, of the Recruitment & Employer Branding department of BBVA, stated in an article published in Blue BBVA, that within this field "different profiles coexist and we could talk about mixed profiles, professionals with a technical, quantitative background, designers, developers, etc. that are integrated into the paradigm of financial services, who are the core of our business."
Tom Cheesewright, the author of the aforementioned HSBC report, emphasizes something very important: whilst machines will continue to take on the more robotic processes, qualities like curiosity, creativity and empathy will continue to set us apart from machines. It's what he calls the three C's: curiosity, creativity and communication.
Knowledge, skills and attitudes
To obtain the desired job success, the key lies in the good combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes that meet the employer's needs.
In terms of knowledge, apart from the traditional, and especially in relation to the sale of products, professionals must know new programming languages and how apps work. They also have to master new information systems, just as was pointed out in an article in Expansión.
With regard to skills, the aforementioned publication added that the ability to manage change and flexibility should be especially noted. And on attitudes, above all the new banking context requires a lot of motivation as well as proactivity.
The profiles of so-called STEM professionals (graduates in science, technology, engineering and maths) are among the most sought after, and financial training will come.
Here are some more concrete examples of roles for the immediate future.
Banking is focused on seducing the customer—customer centric—and for this they need professionals who are capable of "creating first-rate digital products, leading their execution and working in conjunction with multidisciplinary teams of specialists in Service Design, Visual Design, Research, and other disciplines, in a collaborative environment with personnel from the Business, Technology and Data areas" as a BBVA job offer reads.
Common tools for this type of work include prototyping tools (Axure), Sketch domain, Invision and Zeplin or Abstract. Likewise, it's usually necessary to handle HTML and CSS layout.
In general, a master's degree is usually essential to access this type of role. The offer grows over time. An example of relevant training could be the University Master's Degree in User Experience taught by ESNE.
Data analysis, Big Data and business intelligence
This involves using large amounts of data to analyze them and know opinions and trends, as well as anticipate trends and customer needs. These professionals, also known as DBA specialists, must have specific training and may come from other sectors where they have worked in analyzing and handling business information.
We find an example of the skills that are required for these types of roles in a job offer published recently by BBVA: The profile they requested is that of a person who has studied systems engineering or something related. And with knowledge in: ZOS DB2, BMC for DB2 in ZOS, SQL optimization and experience in data model review.
As explained by HSBC, the separation between digital services and physical services is being diluted. At any time, a customer may want to carry out a transaction at a branch, through a chat, voice or virtual or augmented reality app.
As mixed reality becomes the main interface between people and machines, increasingly highly trained customer service will be needed, enabled to support customers in a wide range of products, and able to change without problems between the virtual and physical environments.
The critical skills for this role are really a combination of product knowledge, excellent communication and empathy with the customer. This will require a certain degree of feeling at ease with key communication technologies included in a virtual environment.
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